Xi Jinping meets with Shehbaz Sharif, calls for protection of Chinese citizens in Pakistan

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Hindustan time

September 17, 2022, 12:15 p.m.

Last modification: September 17, 2022, 12:15 p.m.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting of the council of heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) during a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 16, 2022. Sultan Dosaliev/Kyrgyz Presidential Press Service /Handout via REUTERS

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Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting of the council of heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) during a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 16, 2022. Sultan Dosaliev/Kyrgyz Presidential Press Service /Handout via REUTERS

President Xi Jinping has urged Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to provide “strong protection” to its citizens in Pakistan and asked for assurances that the “legitimate rights” of Chinese companies will be protected in the country.

Xi met with Sharif on the sidelines of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Summit in the Uzbekistan city of Samarkand on Friday.

“China hopes that Pakistan will provide strong protection for the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” Xi told Sharif according to a report of the meeting published here by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Xi’s request comes amid a terrorist attack that killed three Chinese tutors and a Pakistani driver outside the Confucius Institute at the University of Karachi in April this year.

The separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) had claimed responsibility.

In July 2021, an explosion hit a bus carrying workers to a dam under construction in northern Pakistan, killing 13 people including nine Chinese nationals.

For his part, Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif told Xi that Islamabad “will do its best to protect the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan” and will continue its active participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). .

The need for more security for Chinese citizens in Pakistan was the only point of contention in the exchange between the two leaders: the rest of the Chinese reading mentions Xi and Sharif praising each other and their country’s close ties. “The two countries have always stood by each other through thick and thin. No matter how the international situation develops, China and Pakistan are always trustworthy strategic partners for each other,” Mr. Xi.

Xi stressed that the two sides should continue to firmly support each other and work on the “… China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to ensure the smooth construction and operation of major projects.”

CPEC, however, has also been a victim of financial mismanagement.

In May, media reported that nearly 25 Chinese companies operating in Pakistan under CPEC said they would be forced to shut down operations this month unless payments of 300 billion Pakistani rupees were made to them. paid.

The CPEC is one of the flagship projects of the BRI, which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, blatantly violating India’s territorial sovereignty.

Pakistan is resolutely opposed to the attempt by “certain forces” to undermine China’s sovereignty and interfere in its internal affairs, Sharif told Xi, adding: “Pakistan-China friendship is unbreakable and unprecedented. “.

China has become Pakistan’s main benefactor, both economically and militarily, providing financial aid to Islamabad in addition to supplying it with essential military equipment, including fighter jets and warships.

China, in fact, cemented its place as Pakistan’s biggest supplier of major arms including fighter jets, warships, submarines and missiles between 2017 and 2021, according to compiled data. by an independent institute focused on arms transfers and conflict earlier this year.

Between 2017 and 2021, Beijing met 72% of Islamabad’s demand for major weapons, the data shows.

Conversely, 47% of all major arms exported by China went to Pakistan during the period, according to new data from the Swedish Institute for Peace Research in Stockholm (SIPRI).

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